Reviews

Front Mission Evolved – Review

Release Date: Out now!
Developer: Double Helix Games
Publisher: Square Enix
Singleplayer: Yes
Splitscreen: No
Multiplayer: 2-8
PEGI: 16

Front Mission Evolved is a big departure from its previous turn-based strategy incarnations, instead players now get direct control over their huge stomping mech’s (called Wanzers. Ok, you can stop sniggering now) in a third person shooter fashion.

Combat and customisation are the key elements to Front Mission, your massive Wanzer (stop it!) can be outfitted with a massive array of armour, weapons and other upgrades throughout the game. You can change the legs, arms and torso to give yourself more armour or speed and these massive machines are capable of carrying a whopping four weapons at a time that can range from gatling guns to rocket launchers.
The catch is that you have to balance you the overall power that all these upgrades to the power that your mech can actually produce, and weigh it down to much and all the firepower in the world won’t help.
There’s a vast array of options to play with and customisation fans will be pleased, sadly a few missions do force certain changes onto your mech but overall you’re left to build it how you like.

A pink paintjob and we're good to go

Combat is also an enjoyable affair, your mech’s array of weapons whilst often sounding a little weak are actually quite devastating and combat tends to be fairly fast paced, partly thanks to the Skate ability of your Wanzer. Skate essentially allows your giant mech to blast around the battlefield thanks to some boosters built into the feet, attach the right upgrades and you can use this to circle strafe and dance around the enemy.
Enemy Wanzers have a few different types to help keep you on your toes but really you never need to change strategy, just keep the triggers pulled until their dead.
Battles tend to fun if simplistic and your mech handles pretty well in combat having a weighty feeling that you would expect with Skate happily countering that just enough to keep things fun. Sadly the AI tends to be a bit basic, the occasional enemy may use cover but for the most part they’ll just stomp towards you with guns blazing and the well named Brawlers just charge straight in and start whacking you leading to some frustrating moments.

Did she really just say that? She did. She really did.

Sadly that’s what most of the missions amount to, blast everything until its dead. The staple convoluted story of the series returns and you’d be forgiven for finding yourself buried by a raft of acronyms that mean little when your playing. A few events at the beginning set-up the game for the lead character, Dylan Ramsey, and provide a fairly entertaining tale throughout. It’s hardly award-winning stuff and contains many cliché’s that may make you groan but it was enough to help keep me playing and while Dylan was fairly generic he was likable enough.
For the most part the voice acting is decent, there’s a few moments of corny over-the-top acting and some weirdly long pauses in-between dialogue but for the most part it’s passable if unspectacular.

Giant robots, they rule.

The same can’t be said for the games dull, lifeless and altogether gray graphics. Textures are flat and bland while almost every level fails to stand-out in terms of art-design. You’ll trudge through lifeless cities and empty factories, all of which tend to be mostly grey. The Wanzers themselves actually look fairly good as long as you don’t get too close up but characters clothes and facial animations are quite frankly disappointing.
There are two cutscenes in the entire game that don’t use the in-game engine and these are actually quite impressive and the action depicted very well done, it’s just a shame they’re the only ones that stood out.

At several points the game forces you to climb out of your beloved stompy mech and go it on foot. Hell, you’ll even get to go up against enemy Wanzers while on-foot! This proves less exciting as it sounds as combat outside of your mech is tedious and poorly executed. Enemies don’t react to being shot and you’re forced to carry just two weapons with no cover system and ineffective grenades. These sections are a chore in every sense of the word and often feel pointless.
A few cool moments occur when a massive Wanzer comes stomping in but really this prove to be less fun than they should be as a few rockets deal with them quickly and they never prove to be a threat.

Scarred villain? Check.

The singleplayer campaign itself will be over relatively shortly with around six to seven hours of gameplay, the sad fact is that thinking back on it I can’t really think of any truly standout moments throughout the story, instead I just remember just shooting a lot of enemies.
Along the way you’ll have a good few boss fights but these tend to be generic splitting into either “just shoot them” or “shoot the glowing points” and providing little fun. One fight in particular near the end felt cheap thanks to one attack the enemy used that was almost unavoidable.

Multiplayer provides a brief distraction with the fairly standard four games modes, playing against real people makes a nice change from the rather daft AI and might keep you happy for a few hours.

There is three words that can describe Front Mission Evolved perfectly: Bargain Bin Game.
It’s an enjoyable game, but far from worth the full price, instead it’s a game worth picking up on the cheap or worth renting for some mindless shooting.

The Good:
+ Great depth of customisation
+ Blowing stuff up in a Wanzer brings a smile.

The Bad:
– It just looks so bland.
– Getting bored of just blowing stuff up.
– Stupid irritating boss fight!

Graphics: 6
Bland, boring environments and flat, lifeless textures but the Wanzers look great.

Sound: 5
Passable voice acting with generic music.

Story: 7
Actually enjoyable if you can wrap your head around it all. And why the damn acronyms?

Gameplay: 6.5
Actually quite enjoyable and the customisation is superb, but the generic and often annoying boss fights couple with bland AI hurt this game a lot.

Lifespan: 6
Around five to six hours to get you through the story and a few more wasted in multiplayer but it has no real replay value.

Overall: 5.5
Enjoyable combat and stomping mech’s are a nice combination, but as a package this is let down by a short story, bad graphics, repetitive gameplay and other problems. If you love mechs then you may be willing to purchase, but for anyone else this is only worth it if you can find it for a bargain bin price.

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